Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Case Study

1963 Words 8 Pages
1. Introduction
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is described by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual as a psychological impairment that causes ‘significant distress’ to an individual’s ordinary interactions and functioning due to exposure to ‘actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violation’ (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). It is estimated that approximately 5-10% of the Australian population suffer or have suffered from PTSD at some point in their lives (Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, 2013). The traumatic events that most likely lead to a development of PTSD in the Australian population are physical assault and rape (Creamer et al., 2001). Military personnel are particularly unique in this instance in that
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The study found that psychological distress as a result of traumatic experiences can be lessened or mediated through the application of various coping strategies and of the 1332 coping instances observed, in more than 98% of cases, both problem-focused and emotion-focused coping were utilized (Folkman and Lazarus, 1980). The method of coping an individual employs is dependent on their appraisal of the stressful situation, referring to the ‘cognitive interpretation and evaluation of a stressor’ (Gerrig, 2009), as well as the wider structural context they find themselves in. Specifically, the controllability of a situation, or the perceived possibility to change the conditions of the event, is a clear determinant of what techniques an individual employs in response to stress (Lazarus and Folkman, 1984). In circumstances where the individual perceives that they have ability to change the stressful nature of a stressor, they would be more likely to utilize problem-focused coping, however when the stressor seems uncontrollable, the individual is more likely to rely on emotion-focused coping (Lazarus and Folkman, 1984). …show more content…
However, results from American and Israeli samples may be generalised to encompass Australian veterans. A cross-sectional study that observed veterans from Vietnam, Korea and World War II found that, contrary to their hypothesis, veterans across the age groups tended to veer away from problem solving techniques and utilized methods that can be characterised as emotion-focused (Blake et al., 1992). Similarly, in a study focused on Israeli veterans of the Lebanon war diagnosed with combat-related PTSD found that soldiers were more likely to utilize more distancing and emotion-focused coping strategies and this was linked to a greater severity of PTSD symptoms (Solomon et al., 1988b). This coincides with research by Folkman who detailed how emotion-focused coping is counter-productive in the reduction of stress due to the perceived uncontrollability of the situation and the subsequent focus on the inner self which could potentially perpetuate the cycle of distress (Folkman, 1984). Furthermore, Billings & Moos have written in detail about how avoidant emotion-focused techniques such as distancing and self-blame is linked to more severe mental dysfunction however this was not extended to all forms of emotion-focused coping and that certain techniques such as ‘affective regulation’ can be effective in minimising distress

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